by Angela N. Gardner
Ross High School
For members that are not already subscribed to the OFLA ListServ, it is an emailing list that serves language teachers at all levels throughout Ohio. Through the ListServ, many items are communicated from scholarship opportunities for students and teachers, to travel opportunities, to professional development events and more. But among the most meaningful of the items that are shared and communicated through the ListServ are the connects that we can make from one professional to another, sharing experience, materials, ideas, resources, and supporting one another within the profession.
On numerous occasions, I have seen emails come through on the ListServ where teachers requested ideas, materials, resources, advice, and more. Sometimes, the replies come through to the entire ListServ and can help all of us that may have similar questions. Other times, answers are sent individually and may not be shared with the ListServ, which not only minimizes the amount of emails coming through, but also limits the number of teachers that may see a response. A few teachers will keep a record of answers and share them out with the entire ListServ once they are compiled, which creates a useful “go to” resource on that topic for teachers to refer to. These connections between professionals break down barriers of time and location, so that we may communicate with one another from different parts of the state and when it is convenient for us to do so, and have proven valuable to many teachers in securing tools and skills they needed in a timely fashion.
Recently, I sent out such an email, requesting participants for practice Oral Proficiency Interviews. It would be a severe understatement to say that I was absolutely overwhelmed by the awesome response of my colleagues throughout the state. Numerous wonderful, kind, generous colleagues whom I have never met face-to-face have responded by taking time out of their busy schedules to make it possible for me to speak with their students to practice interviewing skills, with me providing feedback in return. Additionally, numerous wonderful, kind, generous students whom I have never met face-to-face have volunteered (or were perhaps cajoled) to interview, taking more time from their very busy schedules to speak with a stranger in Spanish. I have struggled to keep up with the pace of interviewing and evaluations, but the practice has been worth the investment and I cannot thank my OFLA ListServ colleagues enough for their support. I wish I had the words to express my sincere gratitude for the help that these people have provided for me.
I would encourage any professional that is seeking help to consult the ListServ, in hopes that you will find more professionals that are willing to share their expertise with you and your classroom. Additionally, I hope that professionals that are able to share and provide guidance would do so as generously as the group that responded to my request for volunteer interviewees. These connections support us all as educators and help to make our students and programs stronger.
Take time to join
For any OFLA members who are not already a part of the ListServ because they are worried about filling their inboxes, let me assure that the investment of sorting through a few extra emails has paid off in tremendous dividends, and it should for you as well. The emails are monitored and only those that are relevant and foster positive connections and growth are shared, helping to minimize filtering for the ListServ participants.
We are blessed to work in a state where we have so many talented, dedicated colleagues that will support one another, providing help and guidance where possible. I would encourage all of you to join the ListServ, and start soliciting and providing assistance where you can! Let’s connect with one another as professionals and build a stronger world language learning experience for our students, OFLA!